Projections of covid-19 coronavirus infections in Africa have defied projections so far falling short by huge margins.
With a cure for the disease yet to be found, the continent has seen many theories emerge as to why the numbers are not growing as fast as they have been elsewhere. There are fears that the continent could be underreporting the cases or that the testing kits could be faulty diagnoses.
That aside, a herbal remedy from Madagascar has attracted the world’s attention with the World Health Organisation (WHO) calling on people to refrain from using untested remedies for coronavirus.
The UN health body says that Africans should only use medicines that have gone through proper trials even when derived from traditional treatments.
Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina has been promoting the herbal tonic for treating covid-19 patients.
And now, the African Union says it is in discussion with the Republic of Madagascar, through its embassy in Addis Ababa, with a view to obtaining technical data regarding the safety and efficiency of the herbal remedy, recently announced by Madagascar for the reported prevention and treatment of covid-19.
AU Commissioner for Social Affairs Amira ElFadil in this regard convened a meeting with the Chargé d’Affaires of the Republic of Madagascar Eric Randrianantoandro on April 30, 2020, during which it was agreed that the member state would furnish the African Union with necessary details regarding the herbal remedy.
“Once furnished with the details, the Union, through the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), will review the scientific data gathered so far on the safety and efficacy of the Covid-19 Organics. This review will be based on global technical and ethical norms to garner the necessary scientific evidence regarding the performance of the tonic,” adds the AU statement.
The developments follow the participation of Madagascar’s President in a teleconference meeting of the Bureau of the Assembly of AU Heads of State and Government with the Chairpersons of the AU Regional Economic Communities (RECs) on April 29, 2020. Rajoelina participated in the meeting as the Chairperson of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and where he made a presentation to his peers regarding the herbal remedy.
South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa who is also the AU Chairperson convened the meeting with an aim of apprising the Chairpersons of the RECs about the actions and initiatives undertaken by the African Union in response to the spread of the covid-19 coronavirus pandemic on the continent.
The meeting also provided a platform for the Chairpersons of the RECs to brief the Bureau about regional measures taken in response to the covid-19 pandemic.
And as the virus continues its rampage, Tanzania and Congo say they will import the herbal tonic which has been touted as a cure for covid-19.
Tanzania President John Magufuli is reportedly sending a plane to Madagascar to fetch the herbal tonic.
Madagascar launched the drink as Covid-Organics after being tested on fewer than 20 people over a period of three weeks according to the Malagasy president’s chief of staff Lova Hasinirina Ranoromaro who was quoted by the BBC last month.
In addition to Tanzania that has expressed interest in the drink, other countries on the continent have acquired the tonic for use with Madagascar saying on Saturday that it delivered a shipment to Guinea-Bissau. Senegal was the first African country to order the tonic from the Indian Ocean Island nation.
The BBC quoted Magufuli saying, “I am communicating with Madagascar, and they have already written a letter saying they have discovered some medicine. We will despatch a flight to bring the medicine so that Tanzanians can also benefit.”
Currently, research of more than 150 different drugs is underway around the world where most existing drugs are trialled against the virus.
WHO has launched what it calls the Solidarity trial aimed at assessing the most promising treatments while the UK has already had the biggest trial of its Recovery vaccine where more than 5,000 patients are taking part.
Advanced therapies like using survivors’ blood as a treatment is also being tested in multiple research centres around the world.